Indon army chief: Truce in Aceh not the solution

Updated On: Feb 04, 2005

Jakarta-Indonesianarmy chief General Ryamizard Ryacudu says thatthere is only one way to end the war in Aceh: The separatist rebels must lay down their arms. His remarks suggest that the Indonesian military’s hardline stance has not changed an iota amid fresh attempts to get peace talks going following the Dec 26 tsunami tragedy.

According to Gen Ryamizard, the TNIis simply carrying out its duty to defend the unity of the Indonesian archipelago.

“As such, the ones who should be laying down arms are GAM members, not us,” he said at a military conference on Feb 2.

While it is good that the government is holding talks with representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), the 30-year-old conflict can only be solved if GAM surrenders, said Gen Ryamizard.

He added that the TNI would readily welcome GAM members who want to surrender themselves.

According toanalysts, the TNI, which has been accused of human rights abuses in Aceh, has long regarded the province as its private fiefdom and is resistant to any moves that will change the status quo.

Aceh also provides the TNI with much income from various enterprises such as illegal logging and “taxes” on fishing and coffee, Time magazine said.

While the TNI’s hardline stance remains unchanged, its arch-enemy, GAM, has shown signs of flexibility following the first round of peace talks with Indonesian officials inHelsinki recently.

According to the BBC, GAM is ready to put its demands for independence on hold in exchange for a referendum on Aceh’s future.

While the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has rejected it, the GAM offer shows awillingness on the rebels’ side to be flexible. GAM has previously said that it would accept nothing less than independence for Aceh. Mr Yudhonoyo has said that he is willing to consider any solution that does not involve independence.

* Truce is not a solution to Aceh’s problem (Media Indonesia, Feb 2)